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Remaking Area StudiesTeaching and Learning across Asia and the Pacific$
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Terence Wesley-Smith and Jon Goss

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780824833213

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824833213.001.0001

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Chinatown and the Virtual Classroom in Singapore and Hawai‘i

Chinatown and the Virtual Classroom in Singapore and Hawai‘i

(p.164) Chapter 9 Chinatown and the Virtual Classroom in Singapore and Hawai‘i
Remaking Area Studies

Lisa Law

Jon Goss

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter describes a web-based collaboration between students taking courses in geography at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the University of Hawaii at Mānoa (UHM) on a comparative study of the Chinatowns in Singapore and Honolulu. Students in both locations posted information on “their” Chinatown, including statements of personal experience, photographs, and other graphic images, as well as quotations from interviews with residents. They discussed these with counterparts, and then worked in groups on a comparative analysis of the two locations. The project showed that differences in educational cultures led to the reassertion of stereotypes of Chineseness and Hawaiianness, which conspired to keep some participants “stuck” in the stages of “culture shock.” Nonnative students in the University of Hawaii classroom experienced the shock of exoticization as they were automatically included among “Hawaiians” in the imagination of the students in Singapore and so were incorporated into colonial stereotypes of lazy Malayo-Polynesian natives. Meanwhile, National University of Singapore students were insulted to encounter colonial stereotypes of the Chinese as hard workers.

Keywords:   web-based collaboration, National University of Singapore, University of Hawaii at Mānoa, comparative study, Chinatowns, geography, area studies, educational cultures, stereotypes

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